Saturday, July 21, 2012
The man on the corner
It is currently 11:29pm and I am exhausted. But I needed to write. I spent the entire day in the city (Chicago) for a wedding and then a Red Bull breakdancing competition in the evening. My friend Jenn and I went last year and it was crazy awesome. Some of the best breakdancing I've ever seen. I'm not much of a dancer myself (at least not a good one) but I can appreciate the hip-hop culture and all of it's elements. I could pretty much quote all the lyrics to Snoop Dogg's 'Doggystyle' album which is certainly not something I brag about. I was a latchkey kid so cut me some slack. Anyway, I met Jenn and four of her friends (high school and college students) at the venue and we watched sixteen of the best B Boys in the country compete until their was one winner.
On our way home we stopped to get some food at McDonalds on Cicero Ave. If you know anything about Chicago you know that Cicero Ave is notorious for being lined with homeless people. The kind of homeless people who bang on your windows and wash your windshield without asking and then expect you to fork over some cash. Even if you don't have any. It was 10:30pm and we probably saw six or eight, what appeared to be homeless people, within a couple blocks, walking up and down Cicero shaking their cups their cups at car windows.
We pulled up to a stop light and their was a sweet man on the corner. We made eye contact and he smiled and waved. I smiled and waved back. I wished I had had something to give him but I had no cash and no food. The passengers in my van were slamming down McDoubles and chicken nuggets but all I had was a sweet tea. The light turned green and we drove away only to get to another corner with another red light. This time there was another man standing there who was a little more desperate. He looked at me and then looked inside my van and saw a McDonalds bag. He started shouting "burger, burger, burger!" At first I couldn't make out what he was saying. And then I caught on. He wanted a burger. He was hungry. But unfortunately the burgers had already been consumed. The light turned green and off we drove. And then my heart sunk.
A grown man just yelled at a van full of strangers (young, white, middle class strangers at that) asking for something to eat. The man was hungry. And I had nothing to offer him. If I had been by myself or with my husband it's likely that I would've turned around and went back to McDonalds and bought him that cheeseburger. But I had a van full of teenagers who had curfews and parents waiting for them. Aka... Excuses. Excuses to not do anything. Excuses to keep living my comfortable life, driving my nice comfortable minivan on the way to my nice comfortable, temperature controlled home.
So to the man on the corner... I am sorry. I want so desperately to give you that cheeseburger. I am sorry that you are so hungry you have to forcefully ask complete strangers for food. If I ever see you again I promise, I won't just drive away this time.
"The king will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40